DEAR CAROLYN: I would like to invite one of my good college friends to be in my wedding party. He and I live relatively far apart but have, over the years, traveled together and gotten together whenever we've been in the same city. We last saw each other about nine months ago, but alumni groups keep us connected by email almost weekly, and we often talk on the phone.
When he got married five years ago, he didn't invite me, and he didn't let me know when he had his first child. Do I need to broach this, or just invite who I want to invite?
DEAR D.: Definitely the latter, with one caveat.
Your position is awkward because it's humiliating. We've all been there.
There is one good thing about being humiliated: If you decide it doesn't matter, then it doesn't matter.
Plus, wedding parties are snapshots. You missed the cut five years ago, but maybe now you'd make it. Who knows.
So, just pick your preference, inviting your friend or saving face.
And heed that one caveat, which is: He lives far away + has a newish child + may not regard you two as close = he might not want to travel. So, if you do opt to invite him, make it clear it's OK for him to say no.
DEAR CAROLYN: We're planning our wedding and my fiancee's mother is making life miserable. My fiancee and I know what we want, and it's simple since she and I are paying for it.
Her mom keeps suggesting that we're doing things wrong, and that she's not included enough, and that it's her daughter's fault for not including her. This makes my fiancee upset, but she doesn't speak up because she doesn't want to hurt her mother's feelings.
Is this one of those times where I need to step up and ask my future mother-in-law to restrain herself?
DEAR PLANNING: This is one of those times where you need to back your fiancee in a way that makes her life easier -- enduringly so.
The mother's complaints expose her as someone who feels left out. If you take it upon yourself to give Mother the stiff-arm, then she's likely to feel even more left out and increase the pressure.
So try this instead:
(1) Remind Fiancee that you two are happy with these plans and that's what counts.
(2) Float the idea that Mother is acting like this because she feels excluded. Say it to explain, not excuse, since there are actual, grown-up ways to handle this that don't involve criticizing and guilt-tripping.
(3) Ask Fiancee whether openness might calm her mother: "Mom, you're far away and feel left out. How would you like to be involved? I want you to feel welcome." Giving Mother a corner of the wedding to control can be transformative. If not, oh well -- then:
(4) Preach the gospel of owning one's choices. She (and you) can walk that walk without apology, to Mother or anyone else: "Mom, this is what works for us; it's not personal."
Carolyn Hax appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.